North Carolina’s sex offenses start at their most serious – Forcible Rape, a Class B1 felony – and decline in seriousness all the way to Sexual Battery, a Class A1 Misdemeanor.
In addition to a prison sentence, or a probationary period, mandatory “sex offender registration” is required under G.S. 14-208.6(5). That law requires that anyone convicted of a “sexually violent offense” be required to register with the sheriff or the county where the person resides for at least a period of 10 years. In addition, the law prohibits someone registered as a “sex offender” from “knowingly residing” within 1,000 of a school. This is just one of the many restrictions in North Carolina’s sex registry program.
In cases where sex offender registry is optional or in which the kind of registry imposed – e.g., whether Satellite Based Monitoring must be imposed – varies, a judge may order the offender to be given a Static 99 evaluation. A Static 99 evaluation requires the person to answer various questions about his criminal background, family and social life, nature of the crime, living arrangements and employment history to rate the person on a scale. The worse the rating, the more likely the judge will require the person to have SBM, which will strictly limit his movements.
Here are a few of North Carolina’s most common sex offenses.
1. First Degree Forcible Rape (N.C.G.S. 14-27.2)
A person has committed rape in the first degree if the person has engaged in “vaginal intercourse” either with a victim who is under the age of 13 years OR with a victim “by force and against the will of the other person” and “employs a dangerous weapon” or “inflicts serious personal injury upon the victim” or commits the offense while being aided by one or more other persons.
First Degree Forcible Rape, in other words, is the rape of a child OR the rape of another person with force, serious injury, or with the help of another person.
First Degree Rape is punishable as a Class B1 Felony, which means that, if convicted, the defendant can be sentenced to a maximum of life in prison.
Often the crime is termed “Rape of a Child” when it involves a victim under the age of 13. In those cases, the state does not need to show any sort of force or threat of force.
This is a “strict liability” crime with regard to child rape, meaning that it does not matter whether the defendant knew of the child’s age, was lied to by the child about the child’s age, or was mistaken about the child’s age. So long as the child was under 13 at the time of the sexual act, the defendant would be guilty of rape of a child.
Second, as with any of the rape crimes in North Carolina, it does not matter whether the defendant fully penetrated the victim. So long as the defendant made contact with the victim’s sexual organ, that is usually enough to show intercourse.
Third, the serious injury does not need to be physical. If the state can show a mental injury that extends for some time after the sexual act, that may be enough to show serious personal injury. Hysteria and crying for only a relatively short period of time would not be enough to show serious personal injury. But nightmares, headaches, loss of appetite over a period of months, probably would be enough to show serious personal injury.
Finally, First Degree Sexual Offense is basically the same crime as First Degree Forcible Rape, except that the sexual act in “Rape” is vaginal, and the sexual act in “Sexual Offense” involves some other sexual act.
2. Second Degree Forcible Rape (N.C.G.S. 14-27.3)
Second Degree Forcible Rape is different from First Degree Forcible rape in that the state does not need to prove that the victim suffered serious personal injury, or that the attacker was aided by other people. Second Degree Forcible Rape is a lesser crime, and also applies in cases where the victim was mentally disabled, or physically helpless at the time of the rape.
Second Degree Forcible Sexual Offense involves sexual acts that do not include vaginal penetration.
These crimes are both Class C Felonies, punishable by up to 261 months in prison.
3. First Degree Statutory Rape (N.C.G.S. 14-27.2(a)(1)) and First Degree Statutory Sexual Offense (N.C.G.S. 14-27.4(a)(1))
These two crimes involve either vaginal intercourse (rape) or other sexual acts (sexual offense) where the victim is under the age of 13 years, is at least 4 years younger than the defendant, and the defendant is at least 12 years old. In this case, the state does not need to prove lack of consent. In fact, even if the defendant shows that the victim was a willing participant in the sexual acts, the state, provided it has proven the other elements, has shown that First Degree Statutory Rape has occurred.
This is a Class B1 Felony, punishable by up to life without parole. If the victim is 13, 14, or 15 years old and the defendant is more than 6 years older than the victim, then the crime is also a B1 felony. But if the victim is 13, 14, or 15 years old and the defendant is more than 4 years, but less than 6 years older than the victim, it is a Class C Felony. As a Class C felony, the crime is punishable with a prison sentence of up to 261 months.
4. Sexual Activity by… a Substitute Parent or Custodian
A person who is in the position of being a parent, and has sex or a sexual act with a person in the home under 18 is guilty of a Class E Felony, punishable up to 98 months in prison. In the case of a custodian, the defendant might be a prison guard, a police officer, or even a nurse having sex with a patient in a hospital.
As with statutory rape, consent is no defense. Even if the victim willingly engaged in sexual activity with the adult, the adult will still be prosecuted under this law.
5. Sexual Activity with a Student
A teacher, school administrator, coach or school safety officer who engages in a sexual act with a student is guilty of a Class G felony, punishable up to 44 months in prison. As with other crimes in this category, consent is no defense, and even a victim who willingly engaged sex is not enough to avoid prosecution and conviction.
Note that if the defendant is a school employee, but is not a teacher, administrator, student teacher, coach, or safety officer, the defendant may be charged and convicted of the much less serious Class A1 misdemeanor
6. Indecent Liberties with a Child
A person guilty of taking indecent liberties with a child is at least 16 years old and, with the purpose of arousing or gratifying a sexual desire, takes or attempts to take an “indecent liberty” with or commits a “lewd or lascivious act” upon the body of a child under the age of 16 years old. In this case, the child must be at least 5 years younger than the defendant.
Indecent Liberties is a Class F felony carrying a maximum of 59 months in prison.
An indecent liberty may occur even if the defendant does not touch a child: for instance, if the defendant masturbates in the child’s presence or photographs the child nude in a sexually suggestive position.
Note that if the defendant is less than 16 years old and commits an indecent liberty with another child who is at least three years younger than the defendant, the crime is a Class 1 misdemeanor.